ODD TANDBERG - BIOGRAPHY

Odd Tandberg (1924-2017) was a painter, graphic artist and sculptor, and counts as a pioneer within the non-figurative art-movement of the post-war period in Norway. He studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry (1942-45) and at the Norwegian National Academy of Fine Arts (1945-46). From 1946 on he was a student at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, and additionally attended Møllers Lithography Academy. In his student years he got acquainted with his future wife Elen Mathilde (Numme) Grøn-Hansen (1921-2010), whom he married in February 1947, and who was to become an important partner through out his career as an artist.

 

At the age of nearly 93 years, Odd Tandberg has worked as an artist for more than 75 years. As an artist he has been rather experimental, using many different kinds of materials, technics and forms of expression. In his early years, he made mostly paintings and graphic art, but as the years passed, his works also included a great variety of art forms, like sculptures, kinetics and different variations of public art.

 

The initial paintings from the early 40s are held in a naturalistic style of expression. In 1945, the artist participated at the annual national Autumn Exhibition in Oslo for the first time. His first solo exhibition was not held until five years later, due to his many travels all around Europe. These travels, concentrated in the years between 1946 and -56, were essential for the development of Tandberg as an artist. In Paris, where the artist couple was a part of the social circle around the Denise René Gallery, in Malaga, where they repeatedly lived for months on end and in Povoa da Varzim in Portugal, where they participated in an artist collective, Tandberg was inspired to experiment with non-figurative, so called “concrete art”, art that was not to be an abstraction of things, but in which the expression of forms in themselves was the goal. Relating to this form of art, Tandberg increasingly simplified his motifs and used a narrower and more defined colour scale and composed pictures with simple geometrical forms. In the 60s and 70s he furthermore began to attend to the textural contrasts and three-dimensional effects in the paintings. In addition, he developed a great interest for serial motifs, which enabled him to find new themes in one and the same motif. This serial-progressive way of work also shows Tandbergs constant striving towards new artistic expressions.

 

In 1952 he started working with serigraphy, and has since continually been working with different graphical methods. His works shows a great motivation to try out new techniques, to use them in new and innovative ways. As a result, he developed a unique style of expression within the medium of metal print. These prints were also often combined with other techniques and materials, and are for this reason often called material pictures. Most of the graphical works are printed in small editions, of which some contained only 10-20 copies. Tandberg attended numerous international graphic exhibitions all over Europe. He also used his silkscreen prints in several public works of art.

 

In 1957 he was assigned with his first major public work of art, relief drawings in betón brut for the architect Erling Viksjøs new parliament building in Oslo. Up until today, Tandberg has completed more than 50 public works of art altogether. Many of them are made in concrete, often in combination with stones (so called “conglowall”), glass or metal. From 1980 onwards he used different print techniques and experimented with reliefs and metals such as copper, steel and brass. In the early 60s Tandberg completed his first freestanding sculpture in betón brut, and has since then made numerous sculptures and carvings in a great variety of materials, like painted, polished or rusty steel, anodized aluminium and copper and brass treated with acid.

 

Optical art and kinetics had caught Odd Tandbergs interest already in the early 60s, and some years later, in the 70s, he started experimenting with plastics as well. He started making so-called “kinetic art”, in which silkscreen prints were applied on moveable acryl-sheets, often in combination with additional elements like oil, resulting in different optical effects. For this sake he also used light and electrical motors. Since the 80s he has also experimented with acryl and liquid to generate light-refraction, movements and colours.

 

In spite of Odd Tandbergs constant curiosity to use new technology in arts, his focus has always been to achieve new artistic expression through forms and colours. Ever since his study years, he has been following his own artistic intuition and the conviction, that fine arts can stand for itself, and should not be evaluated by how it mirrors reality. He has generally worked parallel within different art forms, and has used experiences from one field in the exploration of the other. He was able to explore new forms of expression, styles and methods, without thought for what was more lucrative or publically accepted. Despite his great amount of monumental public works in Norway and in other countries, very few know just how great an impact his art has had.

 

References:

Meggison, Trine Tandberg, 2009. Prosess og struktur: integrerte utsmykninger av Odd Tandberg. Master's thesis. University of Oslo.

Interview with Odd Tandberg.

Searches in catalogs and newspapers via the newspaper database ATEKST.

 

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